Archive for June, 2009

A Balanced Islamic View on Music and Singing

June 14, 2009


Bismillah.  Based largely on the book by Sh. ‘Abdullah Yusuf al-Juday’

Biography of Shaykh ‘Abdul Ghaffar Hasan

June 8, 2009

Biography and Isnad of Shaykh ‘Abdul Ghaffar Hasan (1330-1427 / 1913-2007), updated from 2007 with a section of my own “Treasured Memories of the Shaykh” at the end.  Btw My father has completed a 100-page biography of his father in Urdu, which is due to go to print soon in Pakistan.  The intention is to translate it into Arabic and English also, insha’Allah.  My translation of the Shaykh’s “Intikhab-e-Hadith” has gone to print as “Way of the Prophet” (publishers: Kube).  Insha’Allah, we hope that it will be available before Ramadan this year.

Biography of Shaykh Abdul Ghaffar Hasan


Obituary – Shaykh Muhammad b. Salih b. ‘Uthaymin

June 8, 2009

Obituary of Shaykh Ibn Uthaymin


June 8, 2009

Inspired by Ibn al-Jawzi, Salman al-‘Awdah & Abdal Hakim Murad. 🙂

Written in 2005, published again here with minor revisions.


With the Name of Allah, All-Merciful, Most Merciful.


by Usama Hasan

(Inspired by Sayd al-Khatir of Ibn al-Jawzi, Khawatir of Salman al-‘Awdah and “Contentions” of Abdal Hakim Murad)

1          All Praise be to Allah. (Q. 1:1)

2          Say: He is Allah … (Q. 112:1)

3          Say: He is Most Merciful … (Q. 67:29)

4          Say: He is Omnipotent … (Q. 6:65)

5          The “quiet” prayers are associated with the bustle of the day; the “loud” prayers are associated with the stillness of the night.

6          Allah deprives riba of blessing, but He gives riba on charity. (Q. 2:276)

7              Interest is negative Zakat.

8              Allah says, “Fasting is for Me.” Man says, “Fasting is not for me!”

9              The Hajj: a Journey of Love. (Ibn al-Qayyim, Qasidah Mimiyyah)

10            Mecca is Majesty; Medina is Beauty.

11            The Ka’bah is clothed in Majesty embroidered with Beauty. (Ibn al-Qayyim, Qasidah Mimiyyah)

12        In the Old Testament, his name is “Muhammad,” a quantitative aspect (from the form fa’’ala), appropriate for the Mosaic Law. In the New Testament, his name is “Ahmad,” a qualitative aspect (from the form af’al), appropriate for the Christian Spirit.  In the Qur’an, his name is both “Ahmad” and “Muhammad,” appropriate for the Balance of Islam. (Ibn al-Qayyim, Jala’ al-Afham)

13        A surah of Majesty followed by a surah of Beauty: al-Qamar (The Moon) followed by ar-Rahman (The All-Merciful).

14        Nuclear fission is a type of falaq: do not use it to disobey Rabb al-falaq. (Q. 113)

15        “From the evil of that which He created.” (Q. 113:2)  – There is evil in the world because the world is not God. (Martin Lings)

16        “If what you say is true, may Allah forgive me!  If what you say is false, may Allah forgive you!” (Reply of the Companions and Followers to people who abused them.)

17            The Muslim theory of relativity: la ilaha ill’Allah, “all is relative to the Absolute.”

18            The turban is the symbol of the amanah (trust, responsibility) borne by Man. (Shaykh Abdal Qadir al-Murabit)

19            Every thing (shay’) is a manifestation of His Will (sha’a, yasha’u, shay’an).

20        History is a powerful witness to the fact that Muhammad (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) was indeed the Last Prophet, for there has not been a person even remotely comparable to him since.

21            From the baraka (blessing) of knowledge is to mention its source. (Imam Nawawi and others)

22            The [apparent] anthropomorphism of God in the Qur’an implies the theomorphism of Man. (Frithjof Schuon, Understanding Islam.  i.e. The issue of the Attributes of God returns to the hadith, “Allah created Adam in His image.” cf. Khan & Hilali, Translation of the Noble Qur’an, 4:86)

23            The numbers of the raka’at and adhkar are in perfect balance, like a chemical or culinary recipe. (Imam Ghazzali, The Alchemy of Happiness)

24            The prayers have raka’at: two, three or four.  The angels have wings: two, three or four.  The raka’at of the believer are like the wings of the angel, on his Flight to his Lord. (Ibn al-Qayyim)

25            “The Garden is surrounded by hardships; the Fire is surrounded by lusts.”  Another transmission of this hadith with an important variation: “The Garden is veiled by hardships; the Fire is veiled by lusts.”

26            He began the second quarter of His Book with Praise: the opening of al-An’am. (Imam Suyuti)

27            The congregational salat is the real “group dhikr.”

28            Does wearing a turban or hijab elevates one’s sense, as well as one’s centre, of gravity?

29            Islam is like a society of married monks and nuns. (Seyyed Hossein Nasr, The Young Muslim’s Guide to the Modern World)  The home is the monastery of the believer. (A saying of the ‘ulama)

30            When you fear for him, throw him into the river! (Q. 28:7)

31            Profane philosophy: chewing the cud.

32            The Wahhabis emphasise Transcendence; the Sufis emphasise Immanence.

33            The Wahhabis emphasise Majesty; the Sufis emphasise Beauty.

34            The Wahhabis emphasise the first shahadah; the Sufis emphasise the second.

35            “The Wahhabis are a sect of the Jews.” (A contemporary Sufi shaykh)  In that case, the Sufis would be a sect of the Christians.

36            The son is the secret of the father. (Ibn ‘Arabi) – The daughter is the secret of the mother.  (U.H.)

37            Everything has already been said. (Frithjof Schuon)

38            Isn’t it ironic that Schuon, an extreme, Perennialist Sufi refutes the Ash’aris and defends Ibn Hanbal, appreciating the depth of his apparently-superficial statements whilst the “orthodox” Ash’aris continue to attack the Hanbalis?

39            Al-ghusl min al-janabah: every part of your body has enjoyed the climax with another creature, so wash every inch of your skin to stand before Me in purity! (Ibn ‘Arabi)

40            No fear, except of Him.  No hope, except in Him. (Iqbal Nasim)

41            The woman is the incarnation of the home. (Frithjof Schuon)

42            The madhhabists forget that it is possible to stand on the shoulders of giants.

43            True recitation of the Qur’an is to actualise its teachings, for tilawah means “to follow”: cf. Q. 91:2 (Imam Ajurri)

44            Men reflect Transcendence; women reflect Immanence.

45            Men reflect Majesty; women reflect Beauty.

46            Prophethood has forty-six aspects. (Hadith)  Every human being has forty-six chromosomes, in twenty-three pairs.  The Prophetic qualities are like a spiritual DNA.

47            So, we have “The Wahhabi who loved Beauty.”  Where is the Sufi who feared Majesty?

48            Hallaj said, “I am God!”  Darwin said, “I was an ape!”  – Each according to his own aspiration! (Akbar of Allahabad, satirical poet)

49            The kharijis are mis-kharijis of justice.

50            Islam is the tariqa.

51            He began the second half of His Book with Praise: the opening of al-Kahf. (Imam Suyuti)

52            Celebrating birthdays is childish.

53            If any birthday had been worth celebrating, it would have been his (may Allah bless him and grant him peace).

54            The sun is the siraj, the blazing lamp.  The moon is the nur munir, the reflected light.  The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) is Siraj, Nur and Munir.

55            Wave-particle duality: the particle reflects al-Hayy (The Living); the wave reflects al-Qayyum (The Self-Subsisting). (Adapted from Aisha Bewley)

56            An Islamic quantum theory: la hawla wa la quwwata illa bi’Llah, “there is no hawl (change of state) or quwwah (force), except by Allah.”

57            Sufism and Advaita Vedantism are essentially the same, with a surface difference of terminology. (Martin Lings, What is Sufism?)

58            What is Sufism? If it is other than Islam, then we want nothing to do with it.  If it is nothing but Islam, then Islam is the only way by which we reach Allah. (Shaykh Abu Bakr the Algerian, of Madinah)

59            What is Salafism? If it is other than Islam, then we want nothing to do with it.  If it is nothing but Islam, then Islam is the only way by which we reach Allah.

60            The false sufis should celebrate Christmas, too.

61            No-one can contain the whole truth, except the Messenger of Allah. (Shaykh Hamza Yusuf)

62            “Life’s a journey – take a guide.” (Cover slogan, mail-order catalogue.)

63            Better a polluted jama’ah than a pure sect. (Shaykh Hamza Yusuf)

64            The fitnah amongst the ‘ulama (Ibn ‘Arabi, Ibn Taymiyyah, Subki, etc.) is like the fitnah amongst the Companions – we withhold our tongues and pray for them all. (Shah Waliullah of Delhi)

65            Everything is outwardly created (khalq), inwardly a result of the Divine command (amr).  (Shaykh Nuh Keller, cf. Q. 7:54)

66            Whoever opposes falsehood, wins. (Motto inscribed on an Arabic audio cassette.)

67            Raising the hands in prayer symbolises the raising of the veil between us and God.  (Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymin)

68            “Most people of the Fire are women” is not the same as, “Most women are people of the Fire.”  As long there are more women than men in total, the two sexes have an equal chance of salvation or damnation.  Study Bayes’ rule of mathematical probability!

69            Never Under-Estimate the Power of the Prayer-Station.

70            “The false salafis veil the Prophet with his Sunnah.” (Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad)  The false sufis separate the Prophet from his Sunnah, and veil him with bid’ah.

71            He was neither veiled by unity from multiplicity, nor by multiplicity from unity.  This is why, and Allah knows best, he kept his eyes open during salat.  (Shaykh Nuh Keller)

72            The head has caught fire with grey hair! (Q. 19:4)

73            The Sunnah within Islam is like Islam amongst the religions. (A saying of the Salaf)  “True Islam” is nothing but the true Sunnah.  Hence, “Islam is the Sunnah and the Sunnah is Islam.” (Another saying of the Salaf)

74            Political Islam: political activity before learning Islam properly is like marriage before puberty. (Shaykh ‘Abdul Ghaffar Hasan)

75            Love your beloved, but don’t get carried away: perhaps he’ll be your enemy one day. (‘Ali b. Abi Talib, may Allah be pleased with him)

76            He began the third quarter of His Book with Praise: the openings of Saba and Fatir. (Imam Suyuti)

77            Hate your enemy, but don’t get carried away: perhaps he’ll be your beloved one day. (‘Ali b. Abi Talib, may Allah be pleased with him)

78            Islam is neither Islamism nor Sufism.

79            What would the false sufis do if they ever took over in Mecca, God-forbid?  Perform a giant hadrah around the Ka’bah?

80            Criticism is infectious. (Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad)

81            Backbiting is cowardly.

82            Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit, and often the greatest chasm between friends.  (English sayings)

83            The qafiyah of the Qasidah Burdah is mim, for obvious reasons.  Every ayah of Surah Muhammad ends with mim, except for two that end with alif.

84            To some, it is unbearable that Islam has more than one madhhab. (Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad)  To others, it is unbearable that we should benefit from more than one madhhab. (U.H.)

85            He said to the fire, “Be cool!” – and it was. He said to them, “Be ye apes!” – and they were.  Whenever He decrees a matter, He merely says to it, “Be!” – and it becomes!

86            Al-Qadr (Fate; Predestination) is a secret of Allah in His creation. (Saying of ‘Ali b. Abi Talib & of Imam Tahawi, ‘Aqidah)

87            The literal meaning of “mortgage” is “the grip of death.”

88            People today attacking Imams Ghazzali and Ibn Taymiyyah: goats butting mountains.

89            The salafi idea of progress: let’s start at the beginning every day.  (Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad)  The mubtadi’ idea of progress: let’s keep going in the wrong direction.

90            Men reflect the Outward; women reflect the Inward.

91           Islamophobia is becoming our equivalent of anti-semitism: a stick used to stifle legitimate criticism.

92           After the reformers and re-formers, we have the deformers of Islam.

93            The deformers of Islam replace the breadth and flexibility of the Sunnah with a narrow, rigid madhhabism.

94            The deformers of Iman pollute the light of revelation with convoluted kalam.  (This is like drinking sewage instead of milk and honey – Ibn al-Qayyim, Qasidah Nuniyyah)

95            The deformers of Ihsan abandon the spacious Straight Path leading to Allah in favour of a labyrinth of narrow, cult-like, bid’ah-riddled tariqahs.

96            The blogger has killed balaghah.

97            The crescent is not the only symbol of Islam.  All the ayatullah, the Signs of God, are symbols of Islam.  In inter-faith or multi-faith forums, please note!

98            “Whenever he saw me, he smiled at me.” (Jarir b. ‘Abdullah, may Allah be pleased with him).

99            To Allah belong the Most Beautiful Names: call upon Him by them. (Q. 7:180)

100          To Him belongs Praise in the end. (Q. 34:1)

London, 29th Sha’ban 1426 / 3rd October 2005 (updated 8th June 2009)

The Message of Peace in Islam – British/Syrian Conference

June 7, 2009

Attached is my paper presented at this conference organised by the FCO/DCLG plus the British embassy in Damascus along with the Syrian Ministry of Awqaf (Religious Endowments), 1-2 June 2009.

The Threat from Extremism to Islam and the World – Usama Hasan

BBC Radio 4 Thought for the Day: Islam and Evolution

June 7, 2009

from 7th January, 2009 …

I met Abdel-Bari Atwan of Al-Quds newspaper in the BBC studio that morning.  He did several interviews over the Gaza crisis that was raging at the time.  The Israeli ambassador in London was also interviewed on the programme.

BBC Radio 4 Thought for the Day 7-Jan-09 (Islam and Evolution)

Islam & The Theory of Evolution

June 7, 2009

Presentation delivered at The Times’ Cheltenham Science Festival, 3-7 June 2009, Session: Faith in Evolution, Thursday 4th June 2009.

Islam and Evolution

An Astronomical Aubade – Ibn Hani, Andalusian Poet

June 7, 2009

Magnificent composition by the author and fantastic translation by the late Prof. A.J. Arberry of Cambridge.

Astronomical Aubade – Ibn Hani

Islamic Astronomical Poetry (Powerpoint slides)

Principles of Understanding the Qur’an

June 7, 2009

… by my father, 11 principles given.


Islam in Japan

June 7, 2009

A brief history and overview of Islam in Japan by Sheikh Dr. Salih al-Samarrai.

Biographical note: Sheikh Samarra’i is originally from Samarra’ (pronounced Saa-marr-raa’) in Iraq, as his name suggests. Around the 1950’s, he was studying at the Agricultural University in Faisalabad, Pakistan, which claimed to be the largest agricultural university in Asia when I visited it in the 1980’s.  (Impressive: instead of high-tech buildings and labs, one of the most important resource is vast fields growing different crops!)  At that time, my grandfather was living in Faisalabad with his children and Sheikh Samarra’i was one of my father’s Arabic teachers during this period.

Under Saddam Hussein throughout the 70’s and 80’s, Iraq persecuted the Ikhwan (Muslim Brotherhood) so Sheikh Samarra’i went to Japan, where he helped set up the Islamic centre.  He later held a professorial position at King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah, in the department of agriculture, since his PhD was in that field.

I first met Sheikh Samarra’i when I accompanied my father to KAA University when he went to visit his old sheikh around 1990.  I still remember the imam of the university prayer room reading out ahadith from Riyad al-Salihin after one of the afternoon prayers.  The prayer room was packed with faculty and other staff. I was into the hardcore salafism of the JIMAS variety at that time (JIMAS of 20 years ago, that is), which my father mentioned to Sheikh Samarra’i, who said to me, “We need constructive criticism, not the destructive type.”  He also said, “Coming together is goodness, all of it.  Splitting apart is harmful, all of it (al-tajammu’ kulluhu khayr, wa l-tafarruq kulluhu sharr).”  We had dinner at his house, where I met two of his sons.  The eldest is called Qutaybah, and it was the first time I’d met someone with that lovely name.

Some years later, they visited us in London.  Once, I introduced Abu Muntasir to Sheikh Samarra’i at our house in Tottenham.  The Saudi-based Iraqi professor was dressed in a suit and tie, whilst we British Muslims were in robes and turbans.  He immediately said that since we were living in the West, we had to adopt local dress.  At the time, we immediately dismissed this as “a typical Ikhwani inferiority complex” in our youthful boisterousness and arrogance.  How times have changed! 🙂

Sheikh Samarra’i later retired from KAAU and returned to Japan to head up the Islamic Centre again.  As far as I know, he is still there.

Islam in Japan